*We are extremely grateful for the guest post we are sharing this week. The writer prefers to stay anonymous, but her story is genuine and raw and will hit home with many.
When my husband and I began dating, he revealed a skeleton in his closet.
I asked him point-blank if he had ever looked at porn. He was honest, saying he had when he was much younger, but was done with it. There were safeguards on his computer and good friends to help in his struggles. I was a little shaken up by our conversation, but not surprised; it’s not exactly unusual for a young teenager to look at porn. He apologized, I forgave, and we shoved that dusty skeleton back in his dark closet.
Neither of us brought it up again until two years later. We were engaged, two months out from our wedding. I had just picked up my dress and was on my way to another wedding shower. Sitting in the bridal store parking lot, the first blow came.
That day I found out this wasn’t such an old struggle after all. That day, just months before our wedding, I found our closet door had swung wide open, revealing those old skeletons — distorted, twisted, hollow representations of the human form.
He was ashamed and we both cried as he promised me it would not happen again. I believed him, hugged him, told him I forgave him, and we prayed. I was too shocked at the time to know what else to do.
But my compassionate shock died down after a few days.
A new set of emotions came cropping up: pain, betrayal, resentment, anger and confusion. Where was I supposed to go from there? Should I postpone the wedding? Should I insist we go to counseling? That he get rid of his laptop and smart phone and anything else with Internet access? I had truly forgiven him, but the awareness of my current reality left me feeling disoriented.
And there wasn’t time for these emotions. There wasn’t time to work these things out or have some sort of catharsis. Besides, I truly did trust him. He had always been honest; he had never masked his struggles or lied to me. Everything was a blur because of the wedding, so I pushed all my thoughts and concerns aside. We moved on. We closed that closet door and forgot about it as we set up the other rooms in our new home. And I knew we were right where we needed to be on our wedding day. I knew the love and forgiveness and honesty were all a part of God’s redemption of our story.
So then, this post should be over. We experienced the pain, the forgiveness, the redemption, and our wedding should have marked a new chapter in our lives.
But the wedding didn’t close that chapter. The story wasn’t over when my husband promised me the closet door was shut up and locked for good. Even when redemption is the overarching theme of your story, it doesn’t mean the road will always be smooth.
Those skeletons have a way of coming out and making their way into the middle of real flesh and blood relationships. And if you let them, they’ll bring pain, resentment and shame to both sides long after the door is shut.
I found out after we got married if you train your body to respond to porn, it learns, and after a while, it refuses to respond any other way. It refuses to respond in a normal sexual relationship. The punches came repeatedly after we were married, every day, every time we tried to enjoy what we had waited so long for.
Now I see why porn so often ruins marriages.
I felt like a failure, like I didn’t measure up, like I wasn’t good enough. I asked myself over and over the question that I would have never asked out loud: “What do those girls have that I don’t?” Was I not beautiful enough? Sexy enough? Seductive enough? Why could they get a reaction out of my husband that I couldn’t get?
And seeing this pain in me brought my husband more pain than anything else possibly could have.
I am writing this story from the other side. Years have passed between then and now, and while it still hurts writing out every word of my story, I want to let you know porn is no longer a defining word in our marriage. No doubt it has caused some challenges and hurt, but, with God’s help, these challenges did not and have not overcome us. Past mistakes, whatever they are, do not have to be the end.
There is no self-help program, no easy steps, no simple home remedy to cleaning up that old closet. Shame dies in the light, so that’s where you have to put it. It isn’t easy or clean, but when you open that closet door, pull out those skeletons and let the daylight hit them and the fresh air finally sweep through the whole house, you find those skeletons are nothing. Just some dead, dried up bones that don’t even resemble the human form anymore.
And that’s when the healing happens.
There is an enemy, but it’s not Playboy or porn models. Or skeletons. “Our battle is not against flesh and blood.” Pornography is just a small picture of the greater Spiritual battle taking place. Satan has been twisting and perverting sex since long before brown paper magazines and the Internet. There are so many perversions of sex because sex is such a good gift.
And only within God’s narrative can we see sex the way it’s supposed to be.
So if my story struck a chord with you, I hope you know you’re not alone. I hope you know how many marriages struggle with this, but are too ashamed or hurt or afraid to talk about it.
I hope you find someone you can talk to. I hope your husband does too. I hope you find healing when you refuse to keep covering it up.
I hope you’ll trust God. I hope you’ll let Him carry you through.
I hope you never give up. I hope you keep going even when you both feel like failures. I hope you won’t shove these issues out of the way.
I hope you’ll put your shame out in the light where it belongs.
*The author will graciously accept comments via Rediscovered. Feel free to share thoughts and questions in the comments below and they will be relayed to the author. Or you can contact us anonymously.
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